Moffat County resident finds salvation in publishing 1st book
December 14, 2010
Moffat County resident Jackie Manley said writing her first book has been a long and emotional process.
The book, "Saigon Salvation," is a deeply personal tale that draws off the emotion of a traumatic experience Manley had many years ago, she said.
The book was so much of an emotional project for the 53-year-old, that it took 20 years for her to finish writing it.
The 401-page, self-published novel is the story of two individuals — a Vietnam veteran and a rape victim, said Manley, who has lived in the Yampa Valley for about 17 years.
The two characters, who were childhood sweethearts, were forced apart when the man left home for his service in the war.
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After returning from duty, he finds his girlfriend has been assaulted.
The book is also a Christian story of redemption, as both characters are faced with the horrors of living a life with post-traumatic stress syndrome, Manley said.
It is a tale that draws from Manley's own life and contains a "good deal of truth" about living with post-traumatic stress syndrome, the author said.
"I was the victim of a crime in college, the result of which I did get post-traumatic stress, which I have lived with for 34 years," she said sitting in the living room of her home on a 35-acre spread south of Craig.
Manley originally penned the book as part of her therapy for dealing with her traumatic experiences many years ago.
"I had gotten a rough draft done, but I wasn't able to go into too much detail," she said. "It was just too hard for me at the time. Then, life came along."
A number of events in Manley's life prevented her from working on the book after completing the rough draft. But, the author was thrust back to the manuscript after what she described as a "cancer scare."
It was all the motivation Manley needed to finish the book when doctors told her she was pre-cancerous.
"That was really a kind of scary thing because I had dealt with other things and was not ready for that," she said. "I just really, as a Christian, felt like God was saying, 'This is your time that you need to write this book.'"
Manley took a four-week leave of absence from her job and re-wrote the book.
The book was self-published through Xulon Press in October. Manley was unsure how many books were printed by the company or how many had been sold through its online distribution.
It was hard for Manley to reveal so much of her soul through publishing the book, even though she has been writing short stories, poems and pieces on military history since she was 8, the author said.
"Especially for me because the kind of major trauma that I suffered, I just really felt I couldn't talk to anybody," she said.
But, the reception the book has received since its publication has been overwhelmingly positive, she said.
"The one thing that has really excited me is that the book really gives me the opportunity to speak for a lot of people that are not able to talk about post-traumatic stress and different kinds of trauma," she said.
Manley said she recently lost two close friends for similar reasons, one of whom was a rape victim who was unable to talk about the experience and committed suicide as a result.
Writing the book and her deep faith offered much healing for Manley. But, more than self-healing, Manley hopes to spread a message of support for those who have had trauma in their lives.
"If people are not aware of post-traumatic stress, I would encourage them to learn more about it," she said. "This is pretty horrendous stuff. The flashbacks would just sometimes just drive you over the edge. People just don't understand how bad it is."